DEPARTMENT of Health secretary Dr Clement Malau announced the arrival of 700,000 doses of H1N1 vaccine in PNG sponsored by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Australian government.
“While there is a potential threat from H1N1 in PNG, on advice from WHO and as a sensible precaution, we will vaccinate all health workers, pregnant women and people with underlying medical conditions,” he said.
Dr Malau appealed to all pregnant women and people with underlying medical conditions to get vaccinated before the start of the next influenza season.
He said the influenza season would begin in May.
WHO’s representative in PNG Dr Eigil Sorensen said in comparison to the intense pandemic activity in north Africa, southern Asia and in parts of east and southeast Europe, the situation in PNG was much better.
He said WHO would continue to work with the Health Department to ensure those at greater risk from H1N1 virus were vaccinated.
Dr Sorensen also acknowledged the support of AusAID and the Australian government in supplying the H1N1 vaccine to PNG.
PNG AusAID head Stephanie Copus Campbell said the Australian government would continue to coordinate closely with WHO to ensure the vaccine reached the people who needed it most.
This was part of Australia’s commitment to donate up to 10% of its pandemic H1N1 vaccine to WHO for use in Pacific Island countries, including PNG and Timor-Leste.
She said the vaccination programme represented a valuable opportunity to protect the health of Papua New Guineans.